Rivers Casino Opts Out Of Online Gaming In Pennsylvania

Rivers Casino Opts Out Of Online Gaming In Pennsylvania

Thursday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced that Rivers Casino has rescinded it’s online gaming application. That means there are only ten PA casinos pursuing online gaming, with Rivers, Lady Luck, and The Meadows standing on the sidelines.

This means that of the 39 licenses available (13 PA casinos x 3 different kinds of online license – slots, table games, and poker), 10 are still available:

  • Three slots licenses
  • Three online table games licenses
  • Four online poker licenses (Presque Isle opted to decline theirs, purchasing slots and table games licenses only)

These ten licenses will soon be available for purchase by Qualifed Gaming Entities (QGEs) who may reside outside Pennsylvania (or even outside the US). According to the PGCB:

“Qualified Gaming Entities seeking these available certificates can file a petition with the Board beginning October 15, 2018 and ending October 31, 2018.”

The rescinded license was most likely viewed as redundant

Rivers Casino may have backed out of its online gaming license, but it’s likely that this is because it was viewed as redundant. Rivers Casino is owned by Rush Street Entertainment, which also owns another Pennsylvania Casino, SugarHouse.

Rush Street applied for PA online gaming licenses under the names of both properties. SugarHouse’s online gaming license was approved by the PGCB earlier this month. Once that happened, Rush Street had some flexibility in their options.

It appears they have chosen to save $10 million in license fees and operate online under the SugarHouse license. That brand has already been operating a play-money “social” online gaming site in PA and has associated brand name recognition in that arena. SugarHouse is also operating online gaming and an online sportsbook in New Jersey, further strengthening recognition of that brand.

Rivers can therefore simply advertise the SugarHouse online casino brand on its property. Alternately, Rush Street could opt to operate Rivers Casino online as a separate skin under the SugarHouse license.

What about Rivers Casino and sports betting?

As with the online gaming licenses, parent company Rush Street Entertainment submitted applications for sports betting licenses (at a cost of $10 million each) under both of their Pennsylvania casinos. Will the company again rescind one application (Rivers) if the other (SugarHouse) is approved?

Probably not. Operating a sportsbook is a different animal than online gaming. While both activities will rely heavily on the online (and mobile) component, the retail brick and mortar component of sports betting is very important as well. Especially considering that Rivers Casino is the only casino in Pittsburgh and it’s located just a short walk away from Heinz Field, home of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rush Street will probably want both sports betting licenses.